When it comes to legally collecting a certain portion of your salary, it seems as though the government will always find a reason to do so. No one enjoys having to pay taxes, but at least it doesn’t involve some of the ridiculous things that came with a mandatory fee. From facial hair to clocks and even your furry friends, it seemed that just about nothing was off limits. If you want to learn about some of the shocking things that used to be taxed, keep reading.
The first beard tax was enforced under King Henry VIII’s rule in 1535. And no, it wasn’t due to his irrational dislike for beards or because he needed the money, but rather, Henry sought to turn beards into a status symbol. So the higher the status, the larger the tax. King Henry VIII eventually abandoned his beard tax, but Queen Elizabeth I brought it back, this time imposing a tax on any beard that grew past two weeks. Peter I of Russia also followed suit in 1698 when he introduced a tax on beards and mustaches in order to stop men from growing their beards.
2. Hair Powder
In an effort to raise more money to finance their war against France, the English government demanded that anyone who used hair powder had to pay a special tax of £1.05 or £127 in modern money. But it didn’t apply to everyone, including the royal family, lower and mid-ranking soldiers and engineers and clergymen who made less than £100 a year. Masters, on the other hand, had to cover their servants’ taxes and that of their unmarried daughters. By 1855, the public was already over the tax and simply ditched their wigs altogether. The 74-year-long tax finally came to an end in 1869.
Not even our furry besties were spared from the government’s taxation. Between 1797 and 1798, Scotland enforced a fixed tax of five shillings on all non-working dogs. Naturally, people were outraged and complained that the government viewed their beloved pets as nothing more than objects and not living creatures. In reality, the tax was implemented due to the large numbers of non-working dogs who roamed the streets unsupervised, chasing people and just being plain nuisances. The money raised from the taxes would have been used to feed the country’s poor.
In July of 1797, the British government decided to make some extra money by imposing a special tax on clocks and watches. It went something like this: clocks were taxed at a flat rate of five shillings, gold watches at ten shillings and other watchers at two shillings and sixpence. As expected, the public wasn’t too happy about it and most people resorted to hiding their clocks and watches. Sadly, clockmakers were hit the hardest while tavern owners flourished by setting up a huge clock in their establishment knowing that people would stop by to check the time and hopefully buy a drink before leaving.
France’s salt tax also known as the gabelle was one of the many things that led to the infamous French Revolution. This was because salt was very pricey and about every citizen over the age of eight was forced to buy it, whether they needed it or not. Also, they were forbidden from purchasing salt outside of their region of residency; anyone caught buying it outside of their region was severely punished. This went on for several years starting in 1295 and was finally repealed in 1949.
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